How to organise Apple Notes easier and faster

How to organise Apple Notes? I use the Apple productivity apps in my minimalist system for knowledge management and productivity.

organising Apple Notes for bulletproof personal knowledge management
organising Apple Notes for bulletproof personal knowledge management

There are many articles and videos out there covering all the basics, tips and advanced usage of the Apple productivity software - Mail, Calendar, Notes and Reminders.  This guide does not describe the usage of those apps. The devices, platforms, features and integrations are fixed and that information can be found easily. The variable part is the implementation of a systematic way to use the apps, and this is what is covered in this Apple productivity series.

Before getting into the specific guidance on How to organise Apple Notes, here are some frequently asked questions for Apple Notes;

How do I organise Apple Notes?

As you will find below, create a simple organisational system that stays out of the way, and focus on creating notes and finding notes, instead of organising notes.

How can I organise my Notes better?

Do you need to organise your notes better, or do you need to organise your notes less? I found the latter to be true. Once I made a decision and stopped being concerned about organising, my things seems organised and note-taking flowed.

Can I use Apple Notes as a journal?

Yes. Create a folder named "Journal", then create a new note. Type the date as a heading. Type an emoji for how you feel today on the first line. In the second line, write to express your gratitude for something very specific that happened today. That is the simplest way to start.


How to organise Apple Notes

Knowing where to store notes is important, but writing text in notes is more important. Reduce the barrier to writing a note as much as possible. Minimise the noise of an onerous organisational system. Apple Notes supports tags, and smart folders based on tags can automatically organise tagged notes. Plus, search is so good on computers and handheld devices these days, that an organisation system is almost not even required.

Almost.

I like to create a few hard organisational constructs to help my brain understand where my notes are. This system works for me, it might work for you too, or give you a starting point for your own system.

These are the hard folders I use for notes that help anchor in my brain where my notes are on my device...

Organising Apple Notes with folders
Organising Apple Notes with folders

There are other folders that I call smart folders. So does Apple. These are folders in Apple Notes that I create, and pull in notes that have specific tags. I only use these temporarily for specific purposes. They are not part of my regular concrete notes system. Below are descriptions of these folders.

Notes

This is where notes go when I send something to Apple Notes via the share sheet, and this is where I store written notes that are yet to be filed. This is also the place where Quick Notes land when I share a selection in Safari to a Quick N0te.

Projects

Any notes related to a current or upcoming project, my current areas of focus, or my "real work". If the project is completed, I file the project folder away into "Archive" which I hide in Resources. Hidden, but searchable.

Journal

Getting into the practice of journalling brings closure to the day, and an opportunity to reflect and instil gratitude. Another option for this folder name could be Wellbeing and store other healthy routine information to make this an all-around well-being area of focus.

Business

Do you have business or work or side-hustle-related interests? I do. Some people like to keep business separate from life and create a work-life balance. I prefer a work-life integration, and make time in my life, to prioritise my life. Integrating my tasks, calendar, goals, projects, and notes makes it easier and more efficient by having just 1 system to understand, use and optimise. In my business folder, I keep files on employee matters, business information, meeting notes, some areas of focus notes and WIP matters.

Hobbies

I like to keep lists. Some of my hobbies involve collecting. It gives me great pleasure to work on these lists and documents so their existence here is important to me.

Resources

This works as a general text note filing system. It includes a general archive, electronic receipt storage, notes on my health, reference material, and other practical information. There are some folders to organise, but generally, I am happy to search when I need something.